During the first half of 2019, civilians in Syria continued to face dire humanitarian and protection needs as a consequence of the ongoing conflict and violence. While some areas experienced a relative calm following the end of active hostilities in some locations, the overall situation in Syria remained tense and volatile. The increased threats of asymmetric attacks in some locations and the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) scattered throughout the country, among other factors, pose serious protection risks to civilians, while intense hostilities in the North West of the country continue to cause displacement and loss of life.
Palestine refugees remained particularly vulnerable and reliant on UNRWA assistance to meet their basic needs. Existing vulnerabilities are aggravated by protracted and multiple displacements, loss of livelihoods and assets and destruction or damage of shelters, coupled with rising inflation and the depreciation of the Syrian pound to the dollar. Major Palestinian residential areas such as Yarmouk and Ein el Tal remain largely destroyed. A number of Palestine refugee families have returned to Dera’a camp, where services are partially being restored. During the second half of 2019, UNRWA plans to start rehabilitating its schools in Dera’a to support Palestine refugees who are choosing to spontaneously return.
Grim socioeconomic conditions also affect the approximately 47,000 Palestine refugees who fled from Syria to Jordan and Lebanon,1 where many have been pushed into a marginalized existence. In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) remain highly vulnerable due to their precarious legal status, the difficulties they face in regularizing their stay and limited social protection services. PRS are effectively denied access to most public services and barred from working in several syndicated professions, and many live in fear of refoulement and arbitrary detention and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. As observed in 2018, the number of PRS in Lebanon continued to slowly decline in the first half of 2019, mainly due to returns to Syria and onward movements. In Jordan, the number of PRS recorded with UNRWA stood at 17,557 at the end of June 2019 and is expected to remain stable throughout the year. Many PRS in Jordan struggle with limited coping mechanisms and exhibit signs of increased vulnerability, which in turn is reflected in a greater reliance on UNRWA services to cover vital needs.